Monday, 23 January 2012

Rural Catholics Conference 13-15 February

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has a small team concerned with rural issues. It represents Catholics on various national and international bodies, offers training opportunities, and has an official rural contact in most dioceses.

Most Catholic churches and their congregations are in towns, but parish boundaries often include large rural areas. The commuters, retirees and the diminishing number of farmers living there are easy to overlook. High petrol prices, shop closures, and reduced bus services, for example, encourage isolation. The suicide rate among farmers is high.

Each year a national conference is held for rural Catholics. These rose from the ashes of Foot and Mouth Disease, when the countryside was shut down and pastoral care made difficult.

The 2011 conference, in Maidstone, looked at some of the issues in Kent, and heard about Catholic lay teams being equipped for rural ministry in the Diocese of Poitiers. The 8th National Conference will be held at Garstang, near Preston, Lancashire from 13-15 February, 2012. It includes a visit to a thousand-cow dairy herd, and talks on Markets and the moral economy and Field sports and the rural economy. A Catholic from the Diocese of Oslo will be speaking of Oslo’s plans to reach an increasing number of Catholics, often migrants, in its rural areas.

It is not too late to book.

The 2013 conference will take place at Malton, Yorkshire, details from Fr Tim Bywater 01653 692128.

For details visit http://www.catholicandrural.org.uk/ or contact Fr Harry Doyle 01772 782244 or Fr Robert Miller 01747 870228.

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